Horses: A Luxury or a Lifestyle?

For many avid equestrians, owning horses is more than a simply a luxury, it becomes a lifestyle that requires patience, dedication, budgeting and smart resource management. As we all know, horse ownership is not cheap, and while there are those who simply consider their horses a “luxury item” akin to a recreational vehicle, the vast majority of serious horsemen make choices in life that always take in to account and consideration the ability to keep and manage their equine partners. This can be difficult; the term “horse poor” is heard far too often, but it is also something that many of us just simply couldn’t fathom living without.

I caught up with a few San Luis Obispo County “horse people” and asked them this question, “Do you believe horses are a luxury or a lifestyle?”, and, as always, I was enthralled with their answers.

Shannon Scheff – Santa Maria, CA

“At this point in my life, I would have to say that horses are definitely a luxury. I am in college, and even though I grew up riding, showing and doing just about everything I could to maintain the two horses that I had, at a certain point I found myself out of the show ring and simply caring for the horse that I had left. She is one of my best friends, and I couldn’t imagine life without her, but I have also had to make certain choices that don’t allow me to be with her as often as I would like. So, owning Missy right now is a luxury for me. Maybe some day I will be able to call horses a lifestyle again, but that will have to wait until I’m out of school, have a good job, and am ready to settle down in my life.”

Megan Richardson – Paso Robles, CA

“Horses are definitely a lifestyle for me. As you can see, I drive a beat up Ford truck, live in a house that could use some repairs, I don’t go on shopping sprees or have many lunches or dinners out with friends, but my horses have the best that I can offer them when it comes to feed, boarding facilities, tack, veterinary care, etc. If I didn’t have horses, I could afford to do a lot more things…I could afford luxuries, but I’m 43 years old, have had horses all of my life, and plan to have them until the day that I die. I plan my days around three things, work, family and my horses, and I make sure that all of those things are taken care of in equal measure. I get the kids out to the barn to ride, have a daughter who has been showing for the last few years, and a son who just started high school rodeo. We’re a horse family, and it is definitely a lifestyle for us.”

Tandy Bryant – Oceano, CA

“Tough question, but I would have to say…both. Horses are both a luxury and a lifestyle choice. Sure, I could sell the horses and have enough extra cash to take some great vacations, maybe drive a nicer car, eat out a little more often, whatever, but I sacrifice in so that I can have my horses in my life, because I like the horse lifestyle. I like looking forward to the weekends when I can hook up my trailer and go for a ride on the beach with friends, or even spend a long weekend camping down in Santa Ynez with my horses. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who is also into the horse lifestyle, though not as much as me, and it’s something that we can do together that builds a better relationship. So, I have no misguided thoughts that owning horses isn’t a luxury, but I also know that it is a lifestyle that I choose to live.”

Interesting answers from a variety of people of all different walks of life and levels of horsemanship. I always find is fascinating how different people handle horse ownership in different ways, whether it be the “weekend warrior” mentality, or the “over zealous, can’t leave my horse alone for more than 24 hours” camp. Of course, extremes in either case are probably not the healthiest way to go, but most people fall closer to one end of the spectrum or the other. Neither is a bad way to go, and both have valid benefits. So, what do you think…are your horses a luxury or a lifestyle?

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